The Brainerd Warriors boys' basketball team came into its Central Lakes Conference game Saturday night with a huge height disadvantage but it was the Warriors' little guys who controlled the game.
The Cardinals came with 6-foot-7 Darren Solbrack, 6-4 Erik Maursetter, 6-5 Travis Jones and 6-3 Adam Dittberner while the Warriors' tallest player is 6-4 Adam Hardy.
The disadvantage was apparent in the rebounding statistics with Willmar grabbing 32 and Brainerd 29.
But it was the three shortest players on the court that determined the tempo and intensity of the game.
Dan Karlgaard, Joe Morgan and Mike Zauhar prevented the Cardinals from getting into their offense and created 27 Willmar turnovers.
"Joe Morgan, Zauhar and Dan Karlgaard those guys out front just wrecked havoc out there," said Brainerd head coach Brad Amundson. "We're not the biggest team in the league but if we can get pressure on the ball and get their big guys away from the basket, which we established, and we got some good post defense, good things will happen.
"Matt Means and Adam Hardy played Jones extremely tough. They got him away from the basket and he didn't get that many good looks."
Although Jones finished with 21 points, foul trouble kept him off the floor most of the third quarter. That foul trouble came thanks to the offensive play of Hardy and Means.
Defensively, Hardy and Means used their strength and power to move Willmar's post players away from the basket.
"I just tried to be as physical as possible with him," said Means about containing Jones. "I knew he couldn't handle the physicalness of the game."
Brainerd's three guards blanketed Willmar's point guard Josh Benson all night but only committed a combined four fouls (Karlgaard 2, Morgan 2, Zauhar 0).
Conversely, Willmar was hampered by foul trouble, giving Brainerd 30 free throws to the Cardinals' 14.
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